In recent weeks, morbidity in Israel has steadily decreased.
As of Monday, the country had 219 serious patients, 7,800 active cases, a positivity rate of 0.68%, a weekly average of 660 new cases per day, about 8-12 deaths daily. In other words, figures very similar to those registered between the last days of March and the beginning of April.
At the time, Israel was leaving the third wave behind, with many thinking the coronavirus in general as well.
As the country is leaving the fourth wave behind, one cannot help but wonder whether this time the stability will last or, on the contrary, the respite will once again prove to be only temporary until what Prime Minister Bennett has sometimes called the “Omega scenario”. hits.
“No one knows for sure what will happen and I think we should be very humble,” said Professor Nadav Davidovitch, an epidemiologist and director of the Faculty of Public Health at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. “At the same time, I think there is a good chance that this situation will last longer, despite some challenges.”
“While we have yet to properly verify this, it appears that the booster provides greater protection against the virus compared to the first two injections, at least based on the first tests performed in the laboratory,” he said. “This will likely guarantee longer immunity.”
Health authorities and experts agree that one of the crucial factors that enabled such a serious new wave was how the immunity offered by inoculation, which Israel performed earlier and faster than any other country in the world, was drastically reduced a few months later. of the second dose. .
As large numbers of Israelis went on and received their booster (some 3.9 million people have received it so far), morbidity fell again.
The hope is that with the third vaccine, immunity won’t wane as quickly again, keeping the virus at bay for much longer.
“I think the vaccine should have been given in three doses from the beginning,” said Professor Dror Mevorach, a senior physician at Hadassah University Medical Center. “In my opinion, this was necessary to establish a good immune memory.”
For this reason, Mevorach agreed that while there can be no certainty, Israel has a good chance of avoiding another wave.
Both experts suggested that the efficacy of the vaccine is only one aspect of the country’s strategy to prevent a further increase in morbidity.
“Last time, some restrictions, like indoor masks, were removed too quickly,” Mevorach said.
“I think now we are much better prepared and we have better infrastructure,” Davidovitch said. “We are doing more genetic sequencing, more contact tracing, and while the numbers are low we should focus on these issues, which are manageable in a situation with a few hundred new cases per day, not thousands. and thousands “.
At the same time, he stressed that it will be important to take advantage of the low morbidity to strengthen the health system in Israel and global cooperation in the field of health to face what the future holds.
When the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted clearance to vaccinate children ages 12-15 in May, Israel took a few weeks before giving the green light to inoculation and then only recommended people with factors high risk or who intended to travel abroad to receive punctures.
A few weeks later, new outbreaks began in that cohort and when the authorities began to push the vaccination campaign with more force, the wave was already furious, with a high percentage of infected registered in that age group.
When asked if something similar could happen with the 5-11 cohort, a discussion of the advisory body of the Ministry of Health on the subject is scheduled for Thursday, the experts did not seem concerned.
“We are going to have the discussion, the data looks good, but I am not worried that we have to pressure families to vaccinate their children,” said Davidovitch. “Surveys have suggested that most parents are eager to vaccinate and protect their children.”
“Even if we decided to wait a few weeks for more data on how the vaccination campaign is going in the United States, I don’t think it’s a bad choice,” Mevorach noted. “But I definitely wouldn’t wait for another wave to start the journey.”
The doctor stressed that it will be important to continue monitoring the airport to prevent new variants from entering the country.
According to Davidovitch, the lack of equality in the distribution of vaccines around the world represents one of the worst threats to the good situation of Israel.
“I think my main concern is that vaccination rates globally are still very low,” he said. “This is fertile ground for the development of new variants and there is a possibility that a new variant will be developed that spreads even faster than Delta.”